If you’re committed to taking your freelancing to the next level, you already know it takes a TON of hard-work, dedication, and courage to go full-force into the world of entrepreneurship.
Now, throw a business partner into the mix who also happens to be your romantic partner, and things can get REALLY interesting.
We know this because we’re doing it!
We’re Lisa & Joe of Scovante Media, and we co-authored this post to share some tips we’ve learned after running a business together, side-by-side, for nearly a year. If you’ve ever thought about going into business with your romantic partner, keep reading!
After being in a committed relationship for about 8 years and freelancing separately for most of them, we finally decided to join forces and start a business together. We knew we had complementary skillsets and could only become stronger by transitioning into a “dynamic duo.” So when we first started working together full-time we thought, “This will be great! TWO heads are always better than one!”
But what we realized pretty quickly is that TWO heads also equals two point of views, two different working styles, two personalities… and a whole bunch of other differences. This isn’t a bad thing! It just means we had to learn to vibe with each other’s own personal style of working & living. It also meant we had to learn how to communicate with one another even better.
While we’re still getting the hang of this whole “business partner + lover combo,” the lessons we’ve learned so far have definitely helped us grow as individuals as well as making us better business owners in the process. We’ve learned SO much that we knew it was time to start sharing it with others, especially since we’ve noticed more and more couples starting freelance projects and businesses together.
So whether you’re someone who’s thinking about joining forces with your significant other or have already started the process, here’s 4 tips for building a business with your romantic partner:
1. Focus on each other’s strengths and use them to establish clear roles
One of the biggest reasons we went into business together is because of our complementary skill sets. This means we each have of our own unique strengths that balance the other person’s weak points. It’s crucial to recognize where you and your partner’s strengths are from the get-go so you can establish clear roles.
If you’re not sure where to begin, try taking a personality test such as Meyer’s Briggs or Sally Hogshead’s How to Fascinate Personality Test. Lisa’s into astrological signs so we factor that in, too.
It’s important to know your strengths so you can figure out where each of you will shine the most when it comes to both operations tasks and client work. While both of you might split the business partnership 50/50, you should establish clear roles to ensure you’re not inadvertently doing the same work or letting the majority of the work rest on one person’s shoulders (unless you want it set up that way).
Having clearly defined roles will also help keep you both accountable and prevent disagreements on who should be handling what. For example, if one of you is better with numbers and focusing on the nitty gritty details, one of you should elect to be the CFO (Chief Financial Officer)– the person who manages the books and accounting tasks.
If one of you loves to write and research, elect to be CCO (Chief Creative Officer)– the person who publishes blog posts and marketing content. It doesn’t matter what titles you use or make up so long as each of you know who’s responsible for what.
Two heads aren’t better or more efficient when they’re butting up against one another, so make sure each person’s roles are clearly defined.
2.Give Each Other Space
If you’re running a digital business, you already know you can work from just about anywhere with a WiFi connection. It’s probably one of the reasons you got into business to begin with. We’re talking about freedom here, after all! However, no matter how well you get along, spending every waking minute together can be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting, so it’s important to give each other adequate space to work alone.
Establishing clear roles allows you to step away from each other and trust that your partner’s got your back because they’re working on the things only they can do. And being able to step away from one another will help you to avoid distractions and recharge your “independence batteries.”
It’s also important to have time alone when you’re not working in/on the business. This can spark creativity and inspiration and often give you more topics to talk about when you spend time together. If you have a separate office space, try alternating the days where one of you works from home and the other is at the office.
If you don’t have your own office space, alternate the days where one of you works at a coffee shop while the other is at home. Going into separate rooms doesn’t always cut it so make sure you’re actually in separate locations. Taking time apart from one another to work will make you appreciate the time you DO get to spend together, and it will likely make you more productive in your business.
3.Periodically Review and Reflect
Sitting down to reflect on what’s going on in your life and business is one thing (and almost subconscious at times), but purposefully reflecting with someone else is totally different and can take a little practice.
Sitting down a few times a month to reflect on what’s happening in the business is extremely important. It will allow you to discuss what might be bothering you with certain processes and how to make them better. It keeps things more organized and focused rather than addressing something randomly whenever you feel like it. It allows you to both be prepared to bring your A game to the meeting. It allows you to be proactive in your business instead of reactive.
You might find that certain areas of the business need a different approach or your roles aren’t that clear or should be assigned differently. Whatever the topic may be, having periodic reviews will help you with your communication and allow you to get on the same page about any issues before they bubble up and become a bigger problem.
Effective communication can solve a lot of problems, so we recommend making a schedule and sticking to it so you take the time seriously.
And trust us, we’re still figuring all of this out as we go along– it takes a lot of trial and error, so don’t get discouraged if you have to change your methods along the way.
4.Most importantly, BE A COUPLE
Don’t forget that first and foremost, you’re a couple! It can be the easiest thing to forget, yet it’s the most important. Being in business together means personal life and work life blurs together in a whole new way, and it can be challenging to figure out how to switch in and out of the different roles. So we know how easy it is to make things all about work and business. We know – we’re living it!
But if we’ve learned anything, it’s that you MUST schedule time to just be a couple. To have fun. To just chill out.
You’ve got to make time for romantic dates and times to just unplug from the work around you. It’s okay if talk about business slips in during these times, but be sure to make an effort to not get into any serious business discussions on a Friday night over wine and pasta at your favorite Italian restaurant. Try to talk about your future plans as a couple: things like places you want to go and things you want to see.
You can also try asking questions you’ve never asked before. Lisa likes to Google conversation starters and bring a list of them on dates. We also like to do some kind of physical activity whenever we get the chance– like swimming or riding bikes. These kinds of activities help take us out of our heads and into our bodies. Plus, doing a fun, physical activity forces us to NOT talk about business because we’re too busy doing something else. (Sometimes even just cleaning the house together helps!)
It’s really easy to forget that there’s a romantic partner inside your business partner so make time to really BE with that person because all of the good couple feelings will spill over into your business.
It’s not always easy, and our business and partnership is definitely still a work in progress, but we hope these tips have helped you learn a few things about what it takes to freelance your way to freedom TOGETHER.
ACTION STEP: If you’re romantic partner is also your business partner, brainstorm 3-5 personal questions (you don’t know the answers to) and ask them out for a middle-of-the-day cocktail. Bring your list, take turns asking the questions, and enjoy being a couple. (Being able to do these little things in the middle of the day is why working together is so awesome. Take time to enjoy it!)